WILLIAM SCHOELL “Trouble in Tinseltown.” Short story. Paul Burroughs #1. First published in Espionage Magazine, December 1986. Probably never reprinted.

   Espionage Magazine was a very professional looking magazine published in the late 1980, but also a short-lived one. It lasted for less than three years, from December 1984 to September 1987, and only 14 issues. It was more or less bi-monthly until this issue (December 1986) but the next one didn’t come out until May of the next year, and was 8″ by 10″ instead of digest-sized, with only 100 pages instead of 164. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of those.

   I’ll add a listing of the contents below. I’m familiar with only one of the authors, that being Bill Knox, who wrote many mysteries taking place in and around the sea for Doubleday’s Crime Club here in the US. William Schoell, who wrote three other short stories for the mystery digests, may be the author of many horror novels and is an expert on old movies whose Wikipedia page is here.

   But when I picked his story from this issue to read. I have to admit it was the word Tinseltown in the title that caught my eye, not his name. And even better, as I quickly discovered, it’s a PI story. And even more than that, it’s an impossible crime tale too.

   The PI is Paul Burroughs, a fellow whose field of expertise is industrial espionage, which first of all stretches the content of the magazine more than I expected, and the industry in particular was even more surprising: the production set of a TV soap opera. Being stolen are the advance plans for the upcoming season. Once leaked to the fan press, the twists of the on-air drama mean no more cliffhangers endings.

   Access to copy machines are limited, and everyone is thoroughly searched as they leave the building. The advance story boards are so complicated that no one could memorize them in a very short amount of time. Where is the leak coming from, and who’s responsible?

   I’m not sure if I’m convinced that the solution would hold up in the real world, and I apologize that this one story is probably the least representative of the magazine throughout its entire existence, but the light, if not hilarious take on the world of soap opera writing was fun to read.


    — From The Adventure, War, and Espionage Fiction Magazine Index, edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne:

Espionage Magazine [v2 #5, December 1986] ed. Jackie Lewis (Leo 11 Publications, Ltd.; Teaneck, NJ, $2.50, 164pp, digest, cover by Gail Garcia)3 · Publisher’s Page · Jackie Lewis · ed
6 · About People · Anon. · bg
8 · About Books · Brian L. Burley · br
12 · About Video · Carl Martin · mr
15 · About Other Things… · Ernest Volkman · cl
18 · Letters to the Editor · [The Readers] · lc
22 · The FBI · Rose M. Poole · ar
28 · The Red Boxes · Leo Whitaker · ss
35 · Churchkill · Chuck Meyer · ss
44 · Betrayal · K. L. Jones · vi
48 · Trouble in Tinseltown · William Schoell · ss
62 · Interview: Bruce Boxleitner · Stanley Wiater · iv
70 · Last Time Out · Rolle R. Rand · ss
82 · A Spy Is Born · Gene KoKayKo · ss
88 · Black Light · Bill Knox · ss
108 · Puff the Magic Dragon · Michael W. Masters · nv
130 · Hello Again · David P. Grady · ss
136 · Holy War · Frank Laffitte · ss
143 · Who Dares Tell the President? · Charles Naccarato · ss
155 · On File…: Luckless Lydia · Richard Walton · cl
159 · Game Pages · Anon. · pz